By Lee Williams
SAF Investigative Journalism Project
Dave Nagel, one of three co-owners of Black Metal Firearms in Mesa, Arizona, said there was something odd about the inspector the ATF sent to audit his gun shop late last year.
Pamela Scott, an Industry Operations Investigator, or IOI, from ATF’s Phoenix Field Division showed up in December, 2021. Her audit lasted two months and concluded in February, which ruined more than a few Christmases.
“People ask me why I waited to July to go public about this,” Nagel said. “The public needs to know that the crazy stuff the government is accused of doing, they’re actually doing.”
Nagel and Scott clashed from the very beginning. All of his records are on paper. Nothing is computerized.
“She asked me why our stuff wasn’t digital,” Nagel said. “I told her I wouldn’t trust her with our digital info.”
During another exchange, Scott told Nagel he had a lot of “gun nuts” frequenting his shop.
“I told her we prefer ‘gun enthusiast,’” Nagel said. “She said she prefers ‘gun nuts,’ and she works for the ATF?”
Scott found nothing in the shop’s books other than a few minor clerical errors. There were no missing firearms or other significant problems.
“She said she was going to put us in for revocation, and that it may change as it goes up the chain, but that was her recommendation,” Nagel said. “We didn’t sell guns to the drug cartels, like the ATF did. Everything we deal in is something that can readily be sold to a customer. There’s nothing here outlandish. We sell normal stuff to the common man, and she treated us like drug dealers.”
An illegal gun registry
Nagel noticed that Scott always had two cell phones – a government-issue phone and her personal cell.
This became important when he caught her copying pages from his A&D Book – using her personal cell phone.
The ATF requires gun dealers to maintain an Acquisition and Disposition book – a log of every firearm that’s acquired by the shop, as well as personal information of the buyers.
“Once she started recording the information from our books, I confronted her. I was concerned she was creating a database,” Nagel said. “She claimed that copying our records with her personal cell phone was ‘part of the purview of her investigation.’”
Nagel has retained Scottsdale, Arizona attorney Derek Debus to help him fight the revocation of his Federal Firearm License.
Debus reacted strongly when told of Scott’s actions.
“There’s no reason for her to be taking photographs of my client’s data,” Debus said. “It’s illegal. There are rules against it.”
Nagel took several videos of Scott copying his records and posted them on his social media. The videos have gone viral.
ATF declines to comment, again
Scott declined to comment.
“Thank you for the email and yes, I see that you are calling me. I would appreciate you contacting our division PIO Cody Monday with any questions regarding my inspection of Black Metal Firearms. He may be able to answer any questions that you have at this time,” Scott said in an email.
Cody Monday, public information officer for ATF’s Phoenix Field Division, said he could not comment because the investigation was ongoing.
Brendan Iber, ATF’s Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office similarly declined to comment.
The ATF has recently come under fire for warrantless home inspections, questionable arrests, ignoring federal open-records laws and inflating “ghost gun” numbers, in the hopes that Congress will inflate its budget.
The Black Metal Firearms audit and the actions of ATF’s IOI clearly show – yet again – the agency is out of control.
The ATF is willing to do whatever it takes for a pat on the head from the current administration – even violate the law. This needs to be stopped immediately. They need to be brought under control, because their history proves that the ATF’s mistakes often end in bloodshed.
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